"Ain't I a Woman?" Inspiration for Eating Disorder Recovery
- Category: Inspirations
When I was making my first unconscious moves toward getting out of bulimia and into a real life I found a Sojourner Truth poster and tacked it on the wall of my study. I looked at it every day and night as I worked through my B.A. at UCLA and my M.A. at Antioch University.
I had only the second paragraph of the whole speech. I didn’t know there was more.
Along side the words was a drawing that filled the large poster. It was a huge black woman with arms as thick as thighs and an ageless face that knew all there was to know about being human and more about being real than I could ever imagine.
Where is her equal today? She’s not in fashion magazines. I wonder if a shop exists that carries clothes in her size? She’s not in movies or on TV, not even PBS. But she’s a woman, all right. And she has plenty to teach us about being a woman.
Read her words and see if you agree.
AIN'T I A WOMAN?
by Sojourner Truth
Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention in
"Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?
"That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere.
"Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman?
"Look at me!
"Look at my arm!
"I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman?
"I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman?
"I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
"Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
"Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
"If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back,, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
“Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say."Sharing responses and thoughts helps us all grow and heal.
- How do you feel, reading what she says?
- What in particular startles you?
- What in particular moves you?
- What in particular crashes into your perceptions of being a woman?
- Do her words impact your eating disorder thinking? If so, how?
Joanna Poppink, MFT, Los Angeles eating disorder recovery psychotherapist and author.
*pix Sojourner Truth, albumen silver print, circa 1870, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution Author Randall Studio, Public domain